Cheltenham Festival Tips

Expert tips for the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.

Eye On Cheltenham Week 6 - Week ending 8/12/19

We take a look at the latest moves and developments in the ante-post betting for the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, as a weekend of fantastic racing from Sandown, Aintree and Punchestown came to an end on Sunday 8th December.

Last year, only three rivals turned up in the Tingle Creek to take on the mighty Altior. Saturday’s renewal, however, was a little different. Altior’s absence encouraged eight runners to take their chance, with Defi Du Seuil leading a field containing three Grade One champions and three Grade Two winners into the breach.

Champion of three years ago, Un De Sceaux took his customary position at the head of the field and Willie Mullins’ eleven-year-old still led the field along on the run to the last. Barry Geraghty, again, timed his late charge on Defi Du Seuil to perfection, hitting the front after the last. The favourite began to tie up in the closing stages, allowing Un De Sceaux and the fast-finishing Waiting Patiently to close the gap, but Defi Du Seuil hung tough in the dying strides to secure a third top-level triumph over fences.

It now seems certain that Hobbs and owner, JP McManus will favour the Champion Chase over the Ryanair, a race Defi Du Seuil remains the ante-post favourite for. Prior to the Tingle Creek, last year’s JLT winner was a 7/1 shot in the Queen Mother, but Ladbrokes moved quickly to cut Defi Du Seuil into 5/1 following his Sandown victory.

Un De Sceaux stuck to his guns valiantly and was clipped into 16s from 20s by Unibet in the betting for the Ryanair. Waiting Patiently’s team seem keen to remain over two miles, after watching their stable star power home at Sandown, and Ruth Jefferson’s eight-year-old was cut into 16/1 for the Champion Chase by Unibet.

The second major Grade One of the weekend came to us from Punchestown on Sunday, where Min carried an odds-on price into the John Durkan Memorial Chase. 12 months ago, Willie Mullins’ charge repelled a spirited challenge from Shattered Love to win his first John Durkan. Again, it was a Gigginstown flag-bearer who laid down the stiffest challenge, with Hardline drawing upsides the front-running favourite on the run to the last. A giant leap enabled Min to re-establish a lead over Joseph O’Brien’s challenger and Paul Townend’s mount eventually ran out a comfortable winner.

Ruby Walsh celebrates Min’s emphatic Melling Chase win.

Having captured his fourth Grade One over fences, Unibet cut Min’s odds in the Ryanair at Cheltenham, listing the former Supreme and Champion Chase runner-up as their 5/1 ante-post favourite, alongside Defi Du Seuil. Presenting Percy also made a pleasing return in the John Durkan, staying on stoutly to finish third, leading to William Hill cutting Pat Kelly’s star into 12s from 16/1 in the betting for the Gold Cup.

There was a second Grade One at Sandown on Saturday but, in truth, this year’s Henry VIII Novices’ Chase wasn’t worth shouting about. Evan Williams’ team were left celebrating as 14/1 shot, Espirit Du Large scored a surprise victory. The winner was then cut into 20/1 for the Arkle, while beaten market leaders, Torpillo and Summerville Boy drifted out to 40s with Paddy Power. It was hardly a race that would worry the likes of Laurina and Fakir D’Oudairies though, as Irish raiders continue to monopolise the ante-post betting for the novice contests at Cheltenham.

Attendees at Aintree this weekend were anticipating a thrilling clash between old foes, Native River and Might Bite in the Many Clouds Chase. Sadly, their showdown ended abruptly, as Nicky Henderson’s charge departed the scene early, allowing Native River to canter home virtually unopposed. The former Gold Cup winner was cut into 14/1 from 20s to reclaim his crown with Betway. Unibet, on the other hand, was unimpressed by the display, pushing Native River out from 12s to 14/1.

Colin Tizzard watched Fiddlerontheroof get off the mark over hurdles at the third attempt, having finished second on his first two starts. Tizzard’s charge then came into 20/1 for the Ballymore, with Unibet slashing Fiddlerontheroof in from 40s to 16/1 in the betting for the Supreme. At Punchestown, Longhouse Poet extended his unbeaten record over hurdles and Martin Brassill’s budding star was cut into 20s for the Ballymore by Unibet.

Tornado Flyer ran out a comfortable winner of a Grade Three Novices’ Chase on Saturday, forcing Unibet to offer fresh quotes of 20/1 in the Arkle and 14/1 for the JLTWide Receiver then brought the curtain down on Punchestown’s Saturday card with a smart victory on the flat and Gordon Elliott’s newcomer was subsequently cut into 14/1 for the Champion Bumper by William Hill.

Fiddlerontheroof bolts up under Robbie Power at Sandown on Saturday.

Before Min retain his John Durkan crown on Sunday, Minella Melody and Dunvegan had secured impressive victories of their own. Henry De Bromhead’s young mare was then cut into 12/1 to win the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle by Paddy Power, while Dunvegan received fresh quotes of 33/1 from William Hill for both the Arkle and the JLT.

The ever-popular Top Notch ran out a worthy winner of the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon on Sunday and Paddy Power was impressed enough to cut Nicky Henderson’s yard favourite into 14/1 to win the Ryanair. Earlier in the afternoon, Two For Gold proved his stamina with a decent victory in a three-mile novices’ chase, earning opening quotes of 40/1 from Paddy Power in the betting for the National Hunt Chase.

Cilaos Emery was the main attraction at Cork on Sunday, living up to his star-billing with a comfortable triumph over Ballyoisin in the Hilly Way Chase. Paddy Power then cut Willie Mullins’ chaser in from 12s to 7/1 in the betting for the Champion Chase. Another to impress at Cork was Clemencia, who bolted up in a juvenile hurdle, leading to William Hill inserting Brendan Duke’s filly into the Triumph betting on an opening price of 50/1.

Despite her lengthy win, Clemencia still sits a long way off Goshen, who shot to the head of the Triumph Hurdle betting after another emphatic victory at Sandown on Friday. Gary Moore’s youngster, who had cruised to a 24-length triumph on debut, bettering that performance with a 34-length demolition job in Friday’s opener, with William Hill pushing Goshen into 8/1 favourtism for the 2020 Triumph.

Enrillo came out on top in a weak renewal of the Grade Two Berkshire Novices’ Hurdle, but was still cut into 25/1 for the Ballymore by UnibetSporting John and Winningiseverything both managed to extend their unbeaten starts to life over hurdles last week too, with Paddy Power handing out quotes of 20/1 and 33/1 respectively in their betting for the Ballymore.

Day One Tips

TimeRaceOur TipOur Tip
12:00Supreme Novices' Hurdle
12:00–Supreme Novices' Hurdle
12:00Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase
12:00–Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase
12:00Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase
12:00–Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase
12:00Unibet Champion Hurdle
Klassical Dream (Ante-Post) 12:00–Unibet Champion Hurdle
12:00David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle
12:00–David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle
12:00Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase
12:00–Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase
12:00National Hunt Challenge Cup Chase
Champagne Classic (Ante-Post) 12:00–National Hunt Challenge Cup Chase

2020 Unibet Champion Hurdle Ante-Post Tip

Unbeaten as a novice last season, claiming Grade One victories at Leopardstown, Cheltenham and Punchestown in excellent fashion during the spring. KLASSICAL DREAM’s 100% record was shattered in the recent Morgiana Hurdle, but Willie Mullins’ star wouldn’t have been suited by the slow pace of that Grade One and should come on leaps and bounds for the run.

On soft ground around a real galloping track like Leopardstown and Cheltenham, I won’t be siding against Klassical Dream. I still think he’s the top-dog in the two-mile division.

2020 National Hunt Chase Ante-Post Tips

Unfairly branded “the worst horse Gigginstown own” after his triumph in the 2017 Martin Pipe, CHAMPAGNE CLASSIC made Michael O’Leary eat his words by defeating Penhill in the Grade One staying hurdle at Punchestown a few weeks later. Gordon Elliott’s charge then missed a whole year through injury, but shaped nicely on both his starts over fences last season, placing in two good-quality Graded races.

Champagne Classic was my ante-post selection in the 2019 running of the National Hunt Chase, only for injury to intervene again and rule Elliott’s eight-year-old out of the meeting again. The former Festival winner has been out twice already this term – a fact which points towards a trouble-free offseason – winning a novice contest at Fairyhouse before an effortless triumph over Discorama in a Listed race at Wexford.

Such has been the quality of his performances during the autumn, I don’t think Champagne Classic would look out of place if he ran in the RSA at Cheltenham. However, Elliott has already identified the National Hunt Chase as his Festival objective and Jamie Codd will more-than-likely take the ride. If he stays fit – and that has proven a very big if over the last two years – then Champagne Classic will be very hard to beat in this three-and-three-quarter mile

Day Two Tips

TimeRaceOur TipOur Tip
12:00Ballymore Novices' Hurdle
Envoi Allen (Ante-Post) 12:00–Ballymore Novices' Hurdle
12:00RSA Novices' Chase
12:00–RSA Novices' Chase
12:00Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle
12:00–Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle
12:00Queen Mother Champion Chase
Chacun Pour Soi (Ante-Post) 12:00–Queen Mother Champion Chase
12:00Glenfarclas Cross Country
Tiger Roll (Ante-Post) 12:00–Glenfarclas Cross Country
12:00Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
12:00–Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
12:00Champion Bumper
12:00–Champion Bumper

2020 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle Tip

ENVOI ALLEN couldn’t have been any more impressive on his jumping debut earlier this month. Gordon Elliott’s Champion Bumper winner looked a natural on his hurdling debut, winning comfortably without ever coming off the bridle. Envoi Allen then followed up in the Grade One Royal Bond at Fairyhouse, comfortably holding stablemate Abacadabras at arm’s length.

Elliott’s charge doesn’t look short of speed and, with the fitness of stablemate Malone Road still up in the air, there is a chance Envoi Allen could end up in the Supreme. That being said, Gordon Elliott has chosen to target the Ballymore with his top novice hurdler in recent seasons and that race would suit Envoi Allen perfectly.

2020 Champion Chase Tips

With Altior set to move up in trip for this season then the two-mile division looks very open. I think however there is a clear standout to claim the crown and dominate the division, CHACUN POUR SOI.

This gelding has always been held in high regard by Willie Mullins, but they have had to be patient in getting him to overcome various issues and injuries since buying him from France. He showed last spring that ability is something he has in abundance with an electric display in a beginner’s chase.

That form was nothing special, but nobody could argue about the strength of the Grade One he took home at Punchestown. That day he beat both the Arkle and the JLT winners, and for me confirmed himself the outstanding chaser of his novice class. Provided connections can keep him sound I’m sure he will have a very impressive season and I’m backing him to win the Champion Chase.

2020 Cross Country Tips

A fairly obvious selection you might say, but by the time Cheltenham rolls around, you won’t find a price better than evens on TIGER ROLL making it three in a row in the Cross Country, so the time to back Gordon Elliott’s stable star is right now.

Elliott has already outlined Tiger Rolls route back to the Grand National, where he will bid to become the first horse in history to win that famous handicap three times in a row. A return to the Boyne Hurdle Tiger Roll won last season is first on the agenda, before Keith Donoghue’s mount bids to land a hat-trick of Cross Country victories, having retained his crown with a stunning 22-length triumph in 2019.

Day Three Tips

TimeRaceOur TipOur Tip
12:00JLT Novices' Chase
Black Op (Ante-Post) 12:00–JLT Novices' Chase
12:00Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Final
12:00–Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Final
12:00Ryanair Chase
12:00–Ryanair Chase
12:00Stayers' Hurdle
Paisley Park (Ante-Post) 12:00–Stayers' Hurdle
12:00Brown Advisory Plate Handicap Chase
12:00–Brown Advisory Plate Handicap Chase
12:00Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle
12:00–Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle
12:00Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders Handicap Chase
12:00–Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders Handicap Chase

2020 JLT Novices' Chase Tips

Despite the potential presence of the likes of Samcro and Laurina in opposition in Thursday’s JLT Novices’ Chase, BLACK OP may well prove to be the one to side with, if Tom George can get the Sandmason gelding to Cheltenham in one piece.

A top-class hurdler during the 2017/18 season, he was the only one to get anywhere near close to the then-imperious Samcro when clashing swords with Gordon Elliott’s charge in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. A last-flight mistake might have cost him that day, but Black Op later made amends with victory over Lostintranslation in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle.

Things didn’t go to plan for him last term over fences or hurdles, failing to win in any of his starts, and Black Op signed off his campaign with a disappointing third at Sandown. His jumping of fences had left a lot to be desired when beaten both starts over the larger obstacles, and he possibly just failed to see out three miles reverted to hurdles in the second half of the season.

Back over fences for this campaign, he got off to an impressive start at Stratford, jumping with more fluency than had been the case, having transitioned to a front-running role. If he can continue to show that level of progress this term, then he may well yet turn into a top-class chaser.

The JLT looks his ideal distance, and he is one who could well improve markedly back over fences this term. Despite racing over the larger obstacles last term, he still qualifies for a novice campaign, where his experience may prove crucial and he certainly has the scope to make a big impression.

Black Op doesn’t have the best Cheltenham record, but he’s interesting nonetheless with the potential for better still to come as a chaser. He could take high order this term as a middle-distance chaser if continuing to show progress.

2020 Stayers' Hurdle Tips

PAISLEY PARK’S ascent to the top of the staying ranks started at Aintree last autumn, where he won a handicap rated 140. Emma Lavelle’s stable star ended the campaign on a stunning mark of 169, having powered to victory in the JLT Hurdle, the Cleeve Hurdle and the Stayers’ Hurdle.

Progressed beyond all expectations last season and there’s no reason why he can’t improve even further. Paisley Park is the one to beat over three miles once again.

Day Four Tips

TimeRaceOur TipOur Tip
12:00Triumph Hurdle
12:00–Triumph Hurdle
12:00County Handicap Hurdle
12:00–County Handicap Hurdle
12:00Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle
12:00–Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle
12:00Cheltenham Gold Cup
Lostintranslation (Ante-Post) 12:00–Cheltenham Gold Cup
12:00Foxhunters Chase
12:00–Foxhunters Chase
12:00Martin Pipe Novices' Handicap Hurdle
12:00–Martin Pipe Novices' Handicap Hurdle
12:00Grand Annual Handicap Chase
12:00–Grand Annual Handicap Chase

2020 Gold Cup Tips

Immediately after his victory in the Dipper in January, Robbie Power proclaimed LOSTINTRANSLATION was a potential Gold Cup horse. Those who scoffed were made to eat their words, as Colin Tizzard’s charge ended last season with a superb victory in the Mildmay at Aintree, before kicking off his 2019/20 campaign with a faultless performance at Carlisle.

Lostintranslation is a brilliant jumper, with Grade One-winning pedigree and remains open to progression over three miles. If I had to back one horse to win the Gold Cup right now, it would be Lostintranslation.

Cheltenham Festival Tips

Very few sporting events each year produce the excitement and anticipation quite like the Cheltenham Festival. Four days of the best jump racing action each March sees leading contenders from Britain and Ireland do battle at the picturesque Prestbury Park.

A total of 14 Grade One races are contested across the four days including four premier championship races named the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase, Stayers’ Hurdle and Gold Cup.

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While the four Champion races take much of the spotlight there are 14 grade 1 races and 28 races in total, with over £4.5 million in prize money to be won.

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